If you’ve been around gamblers for any length of time, one thing you will see is that they are willing to gamble on pretty much anything. If it isn’t cards, dice, sports or racing of some type, they will set up special bets – called proposition, or “prop” bets – to wile away the time and take money. These prop bets are usually innocuous but, of late, there is an edge of danger that has been leaking through.
$100,000 for Solitary Confinement?
The latest prop bet that is sweeping the poker community involves poker players Rory Young and Rich Alati. Young has bet that Alati could not last 30 days without any communication from the outside world. Alati would be kept in a completely darkened bathroom with no light admitted, no clocks or other timing devices, and would not be able to use any artificial means to be able to induce sleep or wake up. As far as food, it would be delivered to Alati on an irregular schedule – so that Alati cannot time out when his next human interaction would be – and could not be cooked (remember, no lights).
This bet is currently ongoing, but it has raised the interest of another notable prop bettor in the Vegas area. According to Lance Bradley at PocketFives, Young has stated he has received an inquiry from none other than former World Champion Huck Seed as to an upping of the bet. According to Young, Seed said he could do the time in a bathroom with no bed, no food for 21 days (and water for the entire time) and do it for 40 days (rather than the 30 that Alati is currently working on). Seed is upping the stakes on the game also; instead of $100,000, Seed proposed to Young that the bet would be for $1 million.
Seed, of course, is a notorious prop bettor with a varying degree of success. He once bet Howard Lederer that he could do a backflip and, once the money was on the table, the 6’ 7” Seed then proceeded to pull off the trick. In a nod to the prop bets of old (where gamblers would tilt the scales in their favor through one trick or another), Seed “forgot” to tell Lederer that his uncle was an acrobat who taught him how to do backflips as a child.
The 1996 World Champion has also come out on the losing end, however. Seed has wagered that he wouldn’t shave until he won another World Series of Poker bracelet; it is known that he had to give that bet up and lost several wagers. He also thought he could beat Lederer (a sizeable man himself) in a footrace with Seed hopping on one leg, but he paid that bet off immediately after only one sight of Lederer’s fleet feet practicing for the match.
At What Point Does It Become Dangerous?
While there have been other prop bets that have brushed the line – Tom Dwan’s prop bet at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2008 for another player to dive in and swim down to the bottom of the shark tanks is a notable case – the prop bet between Young and Alati, not to mention the proposed bet with Seed, is potentially pushing a danger point. There’s a reason that many prisons call their solitary confinement areas “The Hole” – because putting someone into such a situation is meant as punishment and is tremendously stressful both physically and mentally. While solitary confinement is also used to potentially protect prisoners (especially high profile ones), it isn’t the cakewalk that many might think that it would be.
According to the New York University Steinhardt Department of Applied Psychology, solitary confinement can cause hypertension, headaches, dizziness, and heart palpitations. These are brought on, according to the research, because of the anxiety of being in the situation, the sensory deprivation, and the inability to exercise normally. Long periods of solitary confinement aren’t normally used, although there are stories of prisoners who have spent YEARS in such situations; those prisoners have suffered severe emotional, mental and health issues due to their lengthy stays in solitary.
It might be easier for Alati and potentially Seed to achieve what the prop bet is putting forth – they know that they can call an end to it at any point and, if situations arise, that they will be rescued from the confinement area (five night-vision cameras are watching Alati in his endeavor 24/7, with the only privacy when he actually uses the facilities and showers). But what doesn’t change is the same situations that convicts find themselves in if they are in “The Hole” – they have to wonder how much time has passed, unable to see even the slightest light or interact with another human being. Because of the nature of this situation, we do have to start wondering whether such prop bets are going too far – will it take someone getting killed before the reins are pulled back on this horse?